severe weather


Generator safety tips

Updated: Saturday, August 13, 2016 @ 1:35 AM
Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 9:29 PM

Never run your generator in a garage, carport, crawl space, shed or porch. Place outdoors but under cover to prevent electrocution if unit gets wet. Be sure the generator isn’t positioned outside an open window, which can allow fumes into the home.

Use a carbon-monoxide alarm that’s battery-operated or has battery backup.

Never feed power from a portable generator into a wall outlet. This can kill linemen working to restore power or your neighbors who are served by the same transformer.
It also can damage your generator.

Don’t use power cords that are frayed, torn or cut. This can cause a fire or shock. Be sure all three prongs are intact and the cord is outdoor-rated. The cord’s wattage or amps must not be smaller than the sum of the connected appliance loads.

Store fuel and generator in a ventilated area and away from natural-gas water heaters. Vapors can escape from closed cans and tanks, travel to the pilot light and ignite.

Never have wet hands when operating a generator. Never let water come in contact with the generator.

Make sure you have the right cords and connectors.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says you should not use an auxiliary tank.

Most starters use rope pulls. If yours uses a battery, keep it charged.

Always turn the engine off before refueling and let the generator cool.

Don’t spill fuel. It can ignite.

Even in the off-season, your portable generator can become just that, at the hands of a thief. Permanently bolt it down or at least secure it with a strong chain and lock.

More information: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Need more power? Many homeowners opt for large standby generators

Large, permanent generators — also known as automatic standby generators — are more powerful and quieter then their portable counterparts. And newer models are better and less intrusive than older versions.

Most are powered by propane or natural gas stored in large underground tanks or are fed by service lines. That means no shuttling to service stations to fill gasoline cans.

They’re directly wired into the home’s circuit panel. When power goes out, just fire it up and flip a switch.

Some units have a “brain” that detects outages, automatically starts the generator, and switches circuits in seconds. When power resumes, the system flips back to the house circuit and powers down the generator.

Standby generators can range in power up to 45,000 watts — enough to power an entire large home.

Determining if you need a standby generator

List the appliances you’ll want operating in an outage and total the required wattage.

Most units range in price from $10,000-$30,000. You’ll also have to pay for a concrete slab, installation and wiring.

You’ll be subject to the laborious, and costly, permitting process used for new driveways, fences, shutters and roofs. You’ll also need to meet the rules of your local homeowners association.

You’ll need to be familiar with the manufacturer’s guidelines for placement and operation. Some homes will not have room outside to place generators and still have the required space for proper ventilation and to meet fire codes and zoning.

Finding a reputable company

Consumer groups and even the police in the past have dealt with complaints that generator sales and installation outfits took money and either delivered the generators but never installed them, or never delivered them at all.

Some companies poured just the concrete slab. Some delivered units but never pulled permits.

Make sure the company shows its license. Check for complaints. Get referrals.

Sources: Palm Beach Post archives, bobvila.com, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Florida Power & Light Co.

Storm prep checklist for outside the home

Updated: Saturday, August 13, 2016 @ 1:53 AM
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM
By: www.prod.cmgdefault.com


            Storm prep checklist for outside the home
Get Ahead of the Storm - 5 Severe Weather Hacks

WHEN THE STORM THREATENS:

Refill special medications.

Get cash (ATMs may not work for days after). Don’t charge credit cards to the limit; you might need extra cash after the storm.

Get supplies. Follow instructions in this guide for food and water.

Don’t fill gasoline cans until right before the storm; they are a fire hazard.

Fill vehicle fuel tank. Gas stations could run out and some will not have power to run pumps. Check your car’s battery, water, oil. Make sure you have a spare tire and buy aerosol kits that fix and inflate flats.

Check fire extinguishers.

If you own a boat, make necessary preparations.

Prepare your pool. Don’t drain it.

If you own a plane, have it flown out or secured.

WHEN THE STORM IS APPROACHING:

Get shutters, storm panels or plywood in place on windows. If you haven’t installed sockets, attach with wood screws; they’re better than nails and do less damage.

Don’t tape windows; tape can create daggers of glass and in the heat can later bake onto panes.

Remove swings and tarps from swing sets. Tie down anything you can’t bring in. Check for loose rain gutters, moldings.

Move grills, patio furniture and potted plants into your house or garage.

If you do any last-minute pruning, take clippings inside so they don’t become hazards in the wind.

Disconnect and remove satellite dish or antenna from your roof.

Check your mailbox. If it’s loose, secure or remove it.

Remove roof turbines and cap holes with screw-on caps. Unsecured turbines can fly off and create a large hole for rain to pour through.

Prepare patio screening. It usually is built to sustain tropical-force winds, but with higher winds, it can separate from the frame. Officials recommend you remove a 6-foot panel on each side to let wind pass through. Pull out the tubing that holds screening in frame to remove screen.

Secure and brace external doors, especially the garage door and double doors.

Move vehicles out of flood-prone areas and into garages if possible. If not, park cars away from trees and close to homes or buildings.

Don’t turn off your natural gas at the main meter. Only emergency or utility people should do that.

Checklist: Inside the home

Updated: Saturday, August 13, 2016 @ 1:53 AM
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 3:34 PM


            Checklist: Inside the home
Get Ahead of the Storm - 5 Severe Weather Hacks

Follow these steps in your home prior to the storm:

WHEN A STORM THREATENS

 

  • Seal key documents — including passports, wills, contracts, insurance papers, car titles, deeds, leases and tax information — in zip plastic bags and get into a protected, dry place, such as a safe-deposit box or home safe.
  • Monitor the news
  • Set the refrigerator to its coldest setting in anticipation of the power failing.
  • Fill the bathtub. It may be your main supply of water.
  • Stock heavy-duty garbage bags for post-storm home and yard cleanup.
  • Check flashlight and radio batteries and have extras on hand.
  • Charge rechargeable cellphones, drills, power screwdrivers, flashlights, lanterns and batteries.
  • Make sure you have enough toilet paper to last until you can safely get to the store again.
  • If you live in mobile home, you should evacuate if a hurricane of any strength is heading your way.
  • If you live in a hurricane evacuation zone, you must evacuate if an order is given. Please see evacuation zone maps (if available) to find out which areas must evacuate for Category 1 or 2 hurricanes and which must leave for Category 3 or higher storms.
  • Your first choice should be to stay with a friend or family member who is living close by but is not in a flood-vulnerable area.
  • If you plan to leave, start packing. Don’t wait until the storm is almost here to get on the road.

 

WHEN A STORM IS APPROACHING
  • Don’t be misled by landfall predictions. Strong winds could arrive hours before official landfall and be many miles away from the eye.
  • Move furniture away from windows or cover with plastic.
  • Move as many valuables as possible off the floor to limit flooding damage.
  • If possible, secure small, fragile and/or valuable items that could be thrown around if winds enter your home.

Shutters and window coverings

Updated: Saturday, August 13, 2016 @ 1:53 AM
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 4:12 PM
By: www.prod.cmgdefault.com

Shutters and window coverings

Shutters require regular maintenance

Do a trial run now to make sure your shutter system is functioning properly.

If you have removable panels, get them out to see if any are missing or bent.

Make sure you have enough mounting fasteners. If not, hardware stores often carry extras. Make sure mounting tracks are clean and debris-free.

Apply some light machine oil to lubricate parts and deter rust.

Permanently applied shutter systems, such as roll-up, Bahama or accordion shutters should be serviced yearly (twice yearly, if you live on the beach) by a professional, especially if the system is motorized. If rollers are accessible, they can be sprayed with aerosol “white grease,” according to Bill Feeley, president of the International
Hurricane Protection Association. All motors should be professionally serviced.

Owners of newly built homes with shutter systems should make sure their builder demonstrates how to use the system and that all parts are provided before moving in. Missing or wrong-sized components are common, according to Feeley. “The homeowner assumes they fit and then when the storm is bearing down, they find out they don’t,” he said.

— Barbara Marshall

Contact numbers

International Hurricane Protection Association: (844)516-4472, www.inthpa.com

American Shutter Systems Association: 800-432-2204, www.amshutter.org

 

Least expensive option: Plywood

Shutter orders and backlogs rise near the height of storm season. So the time to choose your coverings, if you haven’t already, is now. The least expensive option is plywood.

Plywood does not meet Florida Building Code specifications unless it’s installed according to code.

To ensure code compliance, you’ll need a permit from your local building department.

However, if a storm is close and survival is the goal, follow instructions in the accompanying graphic for correct installation.

What’s the best roof?

Updated: Saturday, August 13, 2016 @ 1:53 AM
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 4:28 PM
By: www.prod.cmgdefault.com

Age and improper installation caused most roof failures in the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes.

Which kinds survived?
  • Metal roofs had the fewest problems, followed by tiles applied with concrete or foam adhesive.
  • Nailed-on tiles didn’t fare as well.
  • Shingle roofs came off in the thousands.

    When was your roof installed? Roofs installed after the mid-1990s, when building codes began to change statewide after Hurricane Andrew, survived better than those installed earlier.

    Shingle roofs

    How old is your shingle roof? Shingles become brittle and lose adhesion in the Florida sun after about 12 years even if they were properly installed. Has your shingle roof been re-roofed on top of old shingles? If so, beware. Large segments of those newer layers flew off in the high winds.

    Tile roofs

    How was your roof tile applied? Tiles applied with only concrete or foam adhesive fared better than nailed-on or screwed-on tiles, which can begin leaking after seven to 10 years. As with shingles, age affects performance.

    Flat roofs

    How many layers or ‘plys’ make up your flat roof? A three- or four-ply interlining (under the roof coating) is generally better than two. Expect a multi-layered flat roof to last 15 to 18 years.

    Metal roofs

    Is your metal roof properly attached? Metal roofs are the most expensive but also proved to be the most hurricane-resistant.

    If the roofers used the correct attachment method, either screws or clips, the wind will have a difficult time getting underneath metal roof panels.

    Sealants

    Do roof sealants and coatings help protect roofs from high winds? “I don’t recommend them,” says Joe Byrne, a roofing industry consultant and owner of Byrne Roofing in West Palm Beach, who says sealants can make shingles more brittle, affecting adhesion.

    Where to verify a roofer’s valid license:
  • State licenses: www.myflorida.com
  • Palm Beach County: (561) 233-5525, www.pbcgov.com/pzb
  • Martin County: (772) 288-5482
  • St. Lucie County: (772) 462-1672 or (772) 462-1673
  • Okeechobee: (863) 763-5548
  • Price-gouging hot line: (866) 966-7226
  • Report unlicensed contractors at (866) 532-1440
    — Barbara Marshall